The historic Alpine tradition of the Perchten Run has found a revival in Germany. Since 2001, the unique „Sparifankerl-Pass“ (local dialect meaning „Devil’s Group“) has been dedicated to the preservation of this winter tradition.
“Spectator interest in the Krampus and Perchten Runs have increased enormously,” reported Tom Bierbaumer, who together with Gordon Wüst initiated the first Krampus-Perchten group in the Munich area.
“But we’re still on a mission to once again establish this fascinating tradition into the public’s awareness.” The chances are good, because thanks to the impressive performances by the Bavarian “Perchten”, audiences long remember this traditional ritual that served to expel and defend against demons and other evil spirits starting over 500 years ago.
Particularly in Austria up to 60 groups can be found at the annual Krampus-Perchten Runs, which progress sequentially over a specific route through the city. Participants wear scary-looking, complex and artistic masks (called “larvae”) made from linden, stone pine or alder wood. Added features include shaggy fur, gloves with claws, a tail and numerous bells that create a huge racket.
Since the Munich group has no commercial intentions, members make time as well as financial sacrifices: Typical costumes cost between 2,000 and 2,500 Euros, which Bierbaumer orders at the beginning of the year from specialized mask carvers and fur tailors (==> see separate press release).
“We do this for the pure fun of it,” emphasized Bierbaumer, who makes his living in normal life as a freelance cameraman. “As a child in Kempten, I ran as a little Krampus, before the custom almost completely disappeared. In 2001 Gordon Wüst, Christoph Klemm and I came up with the idea to revive this tradition. Since then interest has increased steadily.”
As the first Krampus and Perchten group in Munich, the Sparifankerl-Pass is still considered an anomaly in the Bavarian capital. In the Alpine region, however, there are hundreds of similar groups.